It seems bad to swear when I’m in such a beautiful and tranquil place… at the artist residency Tyrone Guthrie by the stunning Annaghmakerrig lake. But when I had the chance to spend the week here to write, I came armed with the advice from Dear Sugar, the anonymous agony aunt of The Rumpus who turned out to be Cheryl Strayed. I had it written on a piece of paper and set it on my beautiful desk overlooking the lake, that was to become my writing womb for the next 6 days.
This is the desk. I have written there of course, but there are so many other interesting places to write here that, in fear of missing out on an inspiring view, or a creative hotspot, I have carried my laptop to many a place, inside and out, like a literary hobo. A week to write! What a luxury. It felt like an indulgence. My day job is writing as a copywriter for the non-profit sector. My second job is writing as a freelance journalist for various newspapers and magazines. My third job is as a non-fiction author, so my hobby is to write fiction. And it felt so insane to wake up in the first morning with no kids, no food to think about, shop for, beat into edible shape, no dog to walk, no washing to hang out, no deadlines to die for, no TV to watch, no ‘work’ to do….. just long, long days to write. I was so jittery the first day with the fear of having to unleash that creativity with no clock to let me off the hook, that I went running in the glorious autumnal forest, drank tea with other writers, with composers, with artists until I settled down and began to feel the magic of this place.
And then I began to write like a motherfucker. To retrain myself to not tighten words and keep word count as meaningful and short as possible (which is necessary for fundraising campaigns and feature articles) but to loosen and expand, the develop every thought, to describe and deliberate, to run away with my thoughts and my words, to let the story lead me, instead of me always leading the story.
It’s my last day, and I feel the pressure of using every last minute, and sitting in every unused seat but actually I think – like all the amazingly creative and inspiring people I have met here – that I will be bringing a little of the Annaghmakerrig magic home with me. What has been unleashed cannot easily be put back in restraints.
This week I have drunk wine and eaten glorious food with established writers who have shared their experiences, play writes who shared their stories, musicians who shared their inspirations, poets, film makers, documentary makers, who all showed me that to succeed, to really live the creative life, you have to get up every day and and write in whatever way that brings you joy.